Dear parents and guardians,
This past fall, many of us either began our first year of high school or returned to our normal day-to-day schedules. While we are figuring out how to manage high school, there are other things we wish you would understand. Communication at this age between a child and his/her parent is rather a complicated and rarely addressed subject. I’d like to speak for myself and other teens on subjects that are hard and rather uncomfortable to talk about, with the hopes that maybe you will learn something new about what we tend to endure on a day-to-day basis.
Times have, in fact, changed. To many teens, this seems like a very hard concept for adults to grasp. No phrase is more annoying to a teenager than the recycled line, “I was in high school once too.” While yes, decades ago you were a high school student, the dangers and pressures you faced are no longer the same. The workload and expectations for students have risen over the years. We are trying to complete intense amounts of homework and studying to maintain good grades while balancing other activities. Some of us play a sport, work or both, while also trying to have a social life. While this may sound silly, to us, this is our life. We like hanging out with our friends on the weekend to relieve ourselves of the stress that has come down on us during the week. This isn’t us intentionally looking to avoid spending time with you, and we aren’t trying to offend you. We are simply teenagers learning how to dispense our time.
“Maybe it’s because you’re constantly on that phone” ignites a flame in every teenager’s mind. Technology is at its peak, and it’s something that wasn’t such a ubiquitous presence during your high school years. This generation is extremely lucky to have the advantage of fast communication, fun apps and easier ways to get things done quickly. To adults, this seems to be the only thing that we kids do, which is in fact, not true. We do play games outside, go to the movies and partake in other activities that don’t involve technology. However, our phones are a gift of technology and are a normal convenience to have in today’s society. Music and literature help to evolve our society, and cell phones are equally influential. We realize that we spend a majority of our time on our phones, but please stop making that seem negative, because it is normal now.
Remember that our brains are still developing, and we are still learning. Patience is key when dealing with teenagers. We understand that you are doing your very best to keep us safe and protected, but your stories and statistics only go so far. Sometimes, the better option isn’t to forbid your child from doing something they shouldn’t, rather allow them to make mistakes and help them learn from them. Personal experiences are what shape us and help us grow; we can’t learn if we don’t mess up. Bear with us, experience the pain we feel, the embarrassment we go through, and then look back at those moments and laugh at them with us.
Now, in the minds of high school seniors in particular, there are other specific things that occupy our brains. Some of us are currently in the process of looking at schools, taking the SAT and ACT, and trying to assemble the perfect application. Each event throughout this process is already very chaotic and stressful on its own. When all are combined together, things tend to feel worse. We are your babies, and for the past 17/18 years, you have either made our choices, or helped us make big choices. Today, however, let us find that school down south that interests us, even if you think its a bad idea. Let us learn for ourselves that maybe it isn’t the best fit. We were always asked what we wanted to be when we grow up. When you ask us now, it hurts when you laugh at our responses. College isn’t the only option, especially in today’s time. We are given a wider variety of post-high school options that don’t require a degree. Help us explore these options rather than scoff at the untraditional way of life.
At the end of the day, being a teenager and having a teenager are hard. There is no easy way to communicate about challenging real-life situations. There are times where we will fight and scream at each other until our throats ache, but at the end of the day, we are a family. We appreciate you looking out for us, checking in on us, and validating your love for us. Although we may not show it often, we feel the same way about you. We just hope that with careful consideration and a lot of patience, you try to understand our daily lives. Remember, the high school you were in is nothing like the high school that we are in.
Yours truly, a teenager.